The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for a nationwide withdrawal of non-essential medical services for 24 hours starting 6 am Monday to protest the violence against doctors at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata. The association, headed by TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen, has also demanded a national law against violence in hospitals.

Responding to the call, the Delhi Medical Association declared that along with hospitals, health services at clinics and nursing homes will also be affected. While doctors at Safdarjung Hospital confirmed that they would join the protest Monday, those at AIIMs said they were yet to take a final decision. Emergency, casualty and ICU services will not be affected, they said.

In view of the continued sufferings of medical professionals and health workers as well as repeated occurrence of such incidents without redressal… (the) Indian Medical Association hereby calls for an All India nation-wide withdrawal of non-essential services in all health care institutions on Monday, June 17, 2019. All non-essential services, including OPDs, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am to 6 am next day. All emergency and casualty services will continue to function, the IMA said in a statement.

The IMA also called for a law that would provide a minimum of seven years imprisonment for those indulging in violence at hospitals. It said to ensure that cases are registered, culprits arrested and conviction assured, mandatory provisions as provided in the POCSO Act should be instituted.

Hospitals should be declared safe zones and provision of appropriate security should be the responsibility of the state, the IMA said.

On Saturday, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had written to chief ministers asking them to frame laws to protect doctors and wherever there is one in place, to ensure that it is implemented. He had also sent a draft Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017 to all states while urging them to form a law.

Referring to the attack on two doctors at the NRS hospital in Kolkata last week, which triggered the latest crisis, the IMA said it condemns the violence and demands exemplary action by the state government .

All the legitimate demands of resident doctors in West Bengal should be accepted unconditionally. Safety and security in hospitals have been a matter of great concern and need to be addressed and ensured. IMA has declared a zero-tolerance policy against violence on doctors and healthcare establishments. The World Medical Association has also passed a resolution against violence on healthcare establishments and urged to bring stronger legislation against this menace, it said.

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